The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPECGH) has called on government and its relevant stakeholders, to end what the chamber describes as arbitrary and unjustified increase in fuel prices.

According to the COPECGH, the spate at which fuel prices are being increased in the country, is unsustainable and must be curtailed and reversed immediately to prevent mass agitations and street protests.

In a press release, the chamber expressed worry over the trend which it said, could lead to “public anxiety and anger” which can only be curtailed and reversed if it becomes top priority for the government.

The release stated that “Fuel prices continue to go upwards in the country even after the budget presentation that sought to attempt reducing same from the removal of excise levy and a reduction on the special petroleum tax (spt) from 17.5% to 15%. Although consumers jubilated and cheered these budgetary reductions, the net expected impact of about 3%, which is yet to be felt across pumps, seem to have already been wiped off by recent increases at the pumps.”

COPECGH in their release further stated that, “fuel prices over the past six windows spanning some three months has only seen consumers pushed to squeeze additional monies every window, a cumulative 19.6% has since been added to pump prices from previous average pump prices of 16.30/ gallon or 3.620/litre to current average levels of 4.320/ litre or 19.46/ gallon.”

Oil prices on the world market have remained fairly stable over the period trading at averages of between $53-$56 though currently a bit lower but the cedi which seems to be the major factor in the arbitrary increases has since the beginning of the year [same] period lost about 17.73% from previous exchange values of ghc3.89/1$ to current market average levels of ghc4.580/$1.

The chamber in their release, blamed the managers of the country’s currency suggesting that, they have not done a good job in arresting the free fall of the cedi.

“Managers of the economy have obviously been doing a very poor job with the speed of depreciation of the local currency hence resulting in these avoidable increases on consumers. What has become more worrying is not only the trend but the fact there seems no end in sight for these persistent fuel price increases as importers who require over $300 million monthly to be able to supply the market with the needed products also have to go on the open market for the dollar as there are not guaranteed the notes by the bank of Ghana.”

“The net effect of this poor management of the country’s currency is the continuous increases in pump prices at a time when the global fuel pricing index seems to suggest Ghana has reduced fuel prices from the previous $0.94/litre to current $0.87/ litre levels,” it added.

The release which was signed by the Duncan Amoah the Executive Secretary of COPECGH further stated that, “Public anxiety and anger is mounting and could soon result in mass agitations and street protests if the current trend is not checked. The current spate of fuel price increases is simply unsustainable and must be a top priority for the current government to curtail and reverse.”

“Cost of public transport is indeed likely to go up anytime from next week and could further worsen the already harsh economic climate in the country,” according to the chamber.

The chamber suggested that, “deregulation programme and its application will also need to be reviewed if necessary as some oil marketing companies also are taking undue advantage of the system to charge over the roof prices on unsuspecting consumers.”